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History of Pondicherry

Walk One: The French Quarter Walk two: The Tamil Quarter
Originally the native Tamil town Pre-colonial History
developed around the nucleus of
a group of temples in the northern
section, and the streets were laid
house is entered through a finely
carved wooden door. Once
inside, the mutram (colonnaded
Pallava Dynasty
Chola Dynasty
Pandya Dynasty
- 900
- 1279
- 1370
Heritage Trail
along the east-west axis, onto courtyard) becomes the central
Vijayanagar Empire 1370 - 1614
which the back-to-back row family space around which the (under nayakship of Gingee)
houses opened. various other spaces are Sultanate of Bijapur 1614 - 1638
These streetscapes with functionally arranged. Some
continuous wall-to-wall Colonial History of Pondicherry
construction are very
different in character from Portuguese set up a factory 1523
the French streetscapes. Dutch buy textiles 1618
Their exterior faades Danes set up a factory 1624

mainly feature a thalvaram First French settlement 1674-1693
Dutch rule 1693-1700
(street veranda with a
French rule 1700-1761
Rue Dumas lean-to roof over wooden
British rule 1761-1765
posts) - a social extension
The French quarter developed to-wall construction with high French rule 1765-1778
of the house providing
along the beach and around the garden walls and elaborate British rule 1778-1783
shelter for the pedestrians

French rule 1783-1793
present Bharathi Park, which is gateways. The faades are - and a thinnai (semi-
British rule 1793-1815
surrounded by stately government divided into smaller panels by the public veranda space) with French rule 1815-1954
buildings. Residential villas use of vertical pilasters and masonry benches for Rue Cazy
extend on either side interspersed horizontal cornices, and feature visitors and pilgrims.
by institutional structures. In flat or segmental arched windows These talking-streets, so called houses have several courtyards.
general the buildings fall into two with bands and louvered wooden because of their intimate scale
Within the intimate fabric of the
main categories: residential, shutters. Wooden balconies over and interactive nature, are typical
Tamil town an interesting

iron brackets and continuous of vernacular Tamil architecture,
morphology of built-form is
parapets with simple ornamental and the entire street stretch is
observed, ranging from the
features are common. homogeneous because of Rue de la Marine
simple country tiled single storied
Most French houses were built on connecting elements like lean-to-
houses of the old Hindu quarters,
similar ground plans with few roofs, cornices (horizontals), and
to the two-storied houses with It is the cross-influence of building patterns in the
variations and with full or partial pilasters and engaged columns
considerable colonial influence of Tamil and French quarters that gives the old town
street frontage. The main faades (verticals) with ornamental
the later Hindu and Christian its distinct architectural vocabulary.
have colonnaded porticoes to parapets, which define the
quarters, to the more elaborately At present, the guided walks are offered by prior
provide better protection from sun skyline. All houses are similar, but
ornamented and colourful houses appointment.
and rain, and also act as a no two houses are exactly the
of the Muslim quarters. You can also discover the town on your own with
transition space to the garden same.
On the whole, a synthesis of two the help of this Heritage Trail map.
court. A major change from the The thinnai marks the sensitive
varying styles is evident in many
original French model is the use transition space after which the
buildings. Especially in
of flat terraced roofs instead of
the pitched roofs of the Parisian the case of some two-
For guided tours, please contact:

storied Tamil buildings,


villas. Tourist Information Centre

the ground floor is (Pondicherry Tourism Development Corporation)
The walled gardens form private
usually Tamil type with 40 Goubert Avenue, Pondicherry - 605 001
interior courts on to which the rest thinnai, thalvaram,
Rue Law de Lauriston Tel : 2339497 / 2334575
of the building spaces open. The pillared courtyard and
which form the majority, and are interiors of the houses are usually carved wooden doors,
simple and varied, and public, more ornate than the exterior. while the first floor INTACH Heritage Center*
which are set amidst large plots High ceilings, tall arched doors displays French (Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage)

with fenced enclosures. French and windows mark the rooms, influence through 62 Rue Aurobindo, Pondicherry - 605 001
and in the case of two storied Tel : 2225991 / 2227324
fluted pilasters,

building models were adapted to

Toshak Patel
buildings, vaulted staircases wind *Visit Architectural Heritage Exhibition
suit local climatic conditions. columns with capitals,
up. Often the inclined window arched windows,
The street faades are usually
shades were made of light Vysial Street plaster decorations
characterised by continuous wall- Published by INTACH, Pondicherry
materials like wood or metal. and end-ornament elements. December 2007 Rue Franois Martin

Rue Cazy
and Tamil architectural patterns. French and Tamil houses that create
are a harmonious blend of European character is a result of hundreds of a part of the Vijayanagar Empire, followed by Islamic rule.

many buildings in both parts of the town Pondicherry, its architectural empires from the 4th to14th centuries, and thereafter it became
influenced each other with the result that are very few monumental buildings in laid out and rebuilt on its former foundations. Pondicherry was part of the Pallava, the Chola and Pandya
Tamil Nadu. The two styles have Heritage Walk of Pondicherry. There much of the old town of Pondicherry, as we know it today, had been
quarter are in the vernacular style of displayed in the Pondicherry Museum.
& Cultural Heritage) has planned this Tamil quarters, and streets were laid in the form of a grid. By 1768
Pondicherry Museum stones. The findings are now
style, whereas the buildings in the Tamil INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art Pondicherry today. A storm water canal separated the French and
pottery and semi-precious
has structures in the European classical tourists and the citizens themselves, fortifications led to flattened ramparts, which form the boulevards of
trade included dyed textiles,
French and the Tamil. The French quarter Paris returned Pondicherry to the French. The removal of
sensitive revelation of the city to in the 1st century AD. The
Pondicherry has two distinct parts: the the ground, sparing only a few structures. However the Treaty of
traditions. With a view of offering a Romans came here to trade
retaliated by capturing Pondicherry in 1761 and razing the town to
important to preserve all these houses. observe the nature of its architectural the town, show that the
In 1746 the British lost Fort St. George in Madras to Dupleix, and
through the old town and closely about 7 kms to the south of
heritage is to be protected then it is
grew into a prominent fortified town and an important port of call. Excavations at Arikamedu,
houses, especially in the Tamil part. If this Pondicherry it is essential to walk 'new settlement'.
in 1674. Under Governors such as Franois Martin and Dupleix, it
the widespread destruction of traditional To experience the spirit of The flourishing trade attracted the French to establish a settlement name "Puducheri" meaning
the streetscapes is today threatened by which captivates the hearts of visitors. textiles. In the 17th century the Dutch and the Danes followed suit. interpretation of the original
the 'milieu' or 'ensemble'. This quality of The old town has a unique charm, In 1521 the Portuguese were the first Europeans to return to trade in "Pondicherry" is the French

Heritage Walks History of Pondicherry

Walk One: The French Quarter

1 Town Hall (Mairie / Hotel de Ville)

2 Notre Dame des Anges Church
3 Ecole Francaie dExtreme-Orient
4 Cluny Embroidery Centre
5 Alliance Franaise
6 INTACH Heritage Center
7 Lyce Franaise
8 Art Gallery
9 Chamber of Commerce
10 UCO Bank
11 Assembly
H6 12 Cercle de Pondichry
13 Ashram Dinning Hall
14 Raj Nivas

15 Museum
31 25 26 16 Manakkula Vinayagar Temple
17 Sri Aurobindo Ashram
18 French Consulate
19 French Institute

6 20 Golconde
Rue Nainiappa
21 Maison Colombani
Walk Two: The Tamil Quarter

30 29
H7 28 22 Bharathi Museum
23 Calve College
Caz 23 24 Sushilabai School
25 Iswaran Temple
22 26 Perumal Temple
27 Ananda Ranga Pillai Mansion
28 VOC School
29 Immaculate Conception Cathedral
30 Kutpa Mosque
16 31 Subbiah Museum
11 12 20
Establishments in Heritage Buildings
10 H5
N H1 Villa Helena
H4 14 S6
4 9 H2 Hotel de lOrient
H3 Hotel de Pondichry
8 15 H4 Le Dupleix
3 0 50 100m H5 Hotel du Parc
21 3
18 19 H6 Hotel Ganga
i Tourist Information
Lighthouse H7 Reve Bleu
R3 R1 Rendez vous

R2 Satsanga
R3 Le Caf
S1 Via Pondichry
S2 Curio
S3 Kailash Bookshop
S4 Cottonwood
S5 Touchwood
S6 Fleurs en Flacon


Hindu Quarter Temple

Christian Quarter Church

8, Rue de la Marine Hotel de lOrient 3, Rue Surcouf

Muslim Quarter Mosque